Safe Routes to School San Mateo County

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) San Mateo County is a countywide program that encourages and enables school children to walk and bicycle to school by implementing projects and activities that improve the health, well-being, and safety of children and result in less traffic congestion and emissions caused by school-related travel. The program’s success hinges on a large network of implementers and volunteers such as PTA members and Site Council leaders. The SRTS San Mateo County is funded by the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County (C/CAG), California Office of Traffic Safety, and the California Transportation Commission’s Active Transportation Program.

Why Safe Routes to School?

Today, fewer than 15 percent of children nationwide walk or bike to school. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - CDCP). Rates of severe childhood obesity are three times higher than they were 30 years ago, putting children at higher risk of premature death and several chronic diseases (CDCP). Converting more school trips to walking and biking is a cost-effective way to reduce peak period congestion and improve local air quality. Twenty percent to 30 percent of morning rush hour traffic can be attributed to parents driving their children to school.  School children and employees are exposed to higher levels of pollutants associated with increased asthma rates and other respiratory problems when these vehicles sit idling during pick-up and drop-off periods.

The Safe Routes to School program provides training, resources, and customized support at no cost to participating schools, while working together with district and school administration, wellness coordinators, parents, teachers, and local community based organizations to encourage over 47,000 San Mateo County students to be active, have a healthy start to the school day, reduce traffic congestion, and improve the environmental health of our communities.

Program Elements

SRTS School San Mateo County is modeled after the National Safe Routes to School Program, which focuses activities around a 6E framework focused on education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement, evaluation, and equity. Together, the activities create a comprehensive, integrated approach to safe transportation in public education.

  • Education: Providing students and the community with the skills to walk and bicycle safely, educating them about the benefits of walking and bicycling, and teaching them about the broad range of transportation choices.
  • Encouragement: Generating enthusiasm and increased walking and bicycling for students through events, activities, and programs.
  • Enforcement: Deterring unsafe traffic behaviors and encouraging safe habits by people walking, bicycling and driving in school neighborhoods and along school routes.
  • Engineering: Creating physical improvements to streets and neighborhoods that make walking and bicycling safer, more comfortable, and more convenient.
  • Evaluation: Assessing which approaches are more or less successful, ensuring that programs and initiatives are supporting equitable outcomes, and identifying unintended consequences or opportunities to improve the effectiveness of each approach.
  • Equity: Ensuring that Safe Routes to School initiatives are benefiting all demographic groups, with particular attention to ensuring safe, healthy, and fair outcomes for low-income students, students of color, students of all genders, students with disabilities, and others. 

Theresa Vallez-Kelly

Coordinator, Safe Routes to School

Email: tvkelly@smcoe.org

Phone: (650) 802-5429

Vanessa Castro

Project Specialist

Email: vcastro@smcoe.org

Phone: (650)802-5430

Ruth Wallace

Administrative Assistant

Email: rwallace@smcoe.org

Phone: (650) 802-5428